Actor Jake Gyllenhaal won rave reviews for his role in the film “Brokeback Mountain.” But along with the kudos comes curiosity as well. Serena Altschul has our Sunday Profile:
For actor Jake Gyllenhaal, being in movies for some 26 of his 36 years means it tough telling fact from fiction. “Throughout my career, the number of times I’ve answered the question, ‘We heard Paul Newman taught you how to drive,’ and I’m like, my poor father!” he laughed.
“So, set the record straight: He didn’t teach you how to drive,” Altschul asked.
“No, he didn’t teach me how to drive. My father taught me how to drive!”
Yes, Paul Newman was his godfather. And Jake was born to Hollywood director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner. But he says that doesn’t mean his upbringing was filled with glamour.
“What I remember of my childhood is that my parents were very hard workers, always trying to get things made,” he said.
In fact, because of his own hard work honing the roles he plays in the movies, he says he’s often mistaken for his complex, con-screen characters.
“Surprise: I’m not the characters I play!” he said.
Take 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” about forbidden love between two cowboys, played by Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.
Altschul asked, “Did anybody say to you, like, this might be a career problem for you?”
“Yeah, yeah. I mean, but c’mon. To me it was never anything that I thought really twice about when I took that movie. By the way, afterwards, you know, I definitely got an onslaught, and at times definitely today at different times people really love to joke about it.”
That portrayal earned him an Oscar nomination. It was, he said, a career high point for him.
And now, there’s Oscar talk around Gyllenhaal’s latest performance. In “Stronger,” a movie he co-produced, he plays real-life Boston bombing survivor Jeff Bauman.
When asked whom he thought about playing him, Bauman, joked, “I like Denzel Washington, so I’m like, ‘Denzel can play me!'”
Bauman lost both legs in the attack, but his spirited determination to overcome the obstacles he faced became an inspiration to the city … and a challenge for Gyllenhaal.